I spent a long weekend at Ikos Oceania luxury coastal resort in Halkidiki on a press trip with Sovereign in April. Halkidiki is a region in Northern Greece, not far from the ancient city of Thessaloniki. I’ve already written about our preview tour of the brand new Ikos Olivia here – this post is about Ikos Oceania.
Ikos Oceania has been refurbished and had just reopened a few weeks before my visit: it was all looking very swish. There are 298 rooms and suites at the resort. I stayed in a spacious Deluxe Junior Suite in Block 5 with a balcony facing the sea. The resort is spread across a hillside leading down to the sea.
The room (number 5213) was beautifully furnished in calm blue and beige tones. There was a very comfortable double bed in the main part of the room as well as a single bed tucked away between the en-suite bathroom and the entrance to the room. There was plenty of space for an extra bed or cot if needed and this room would be great for babies and younger children sharing a room with their parents. I was told that there aren’t any interconnecting rooms at Ikos Oceania, which is a shame for families with older children like mine.
Between the double bed and the balcony was a roomy seating area with a sofa, armchairs, a low table and a flat screen TV. There was plenty of storage and hanging space and a safe in the wardrobes opposite the bathroom. There was also a Nespresso machine, a kettle and a fridge full of all sorts of drinks from Diet Coke to Johnny Walker to orange juice. There’s no charge for these drinks – they’re included in the price of staying here – and if you’d like more of anything you just need to call room service and it will be brought to you.
Sliding glass doors opened from the room onto the balcony. On the balcony was a glass-topped wicker table and chairs and this was a lovely spot to enjoy the views out to sea.
Below my balcony was the Deluxe Collection swimming pool which is apparently only open to guests who are staying in the deluxe rooms. There was free WiFi across the resort for guests.
Ikos Infinite Lifestyle
Both of the Ikos Resorts (Ikos Oceania and its sister resort Ikos Olivia) provide their guests with an all-inclusive package which Ikos calls Infinite Lifestyle. In essence this means an all-inclusive experience which is of a very high standard. For example, the menus at the à la carte restaurants have been created by Michelin-starred chefs, there are premium branded drinks in your minibar, there’s childcare at the beach in case you want to go for a swim and there’s waiter service to your sunbed at the beach and by the pool.
There are five different restaurants at Ikos Oceania and staff can also arrange for guests to dine out at a local Greek taverna as part of the all-inclusive package.
We enjoyed a fantastic lunch and dinner at Ouzo Greek à la carte restaurant by the main swimming pool. The menu at Ouzo is designed by Michelin-starred chef Lefteris Lazarou and nearly everything that I tried there was delicious. There was just one thing that I wasn’t sure about – at the start of the meal we were each given a glass of a very strong traditional drink called Tsipouro. Apparently Tsipouro is a spirit made from fermented grape skins and it contains about 45% alcohol. I took a very small sip but left most of it.
One evening we ate at Fusco Italian à la carte restaurant at Oceania with Daisy Modiano, head of marketing for Ikos. The menu at Fusco is designed by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Fusco and Daisy was keen for us to try everything. We ended up with a whole range of different dishes to share and it was all absolutely delicious.
We had breakfast every day and lunch once at Flavors Mediterranean buffet in the main Ikos Oceania building.
At Flavors you just find a seat and then go and help yourself to whatever you like from the buffet while waiters serve you drinks at your table. The food is fresh and tasty and it’s easy to eat too much as there are so many different things to try.
On our last evening we tried the Ikos Dine Out experience. I really like this idea because I know that all-inclusive resorts are often criticised because guests tend not to spend much money outside them and so the local community doesn’t benefit. At Ikos if you’d like to eat outside the resort you tell reception and they arrange and pay for you to eat at a local taverna, even laying on transport to and from the taverna. We ate at Erodios Restaurant by the harbour in Nea Moudania. There was a set menu of tasty traditional Greek dishes but it was very flexible – I’m vegetarian and one of the others in the group is gluten intolerant and the dishes were adjusted to suit us. I like the Dine Out concept but it would be even better if there were more local restaurants involved rather than just this one. (I understand that there are two Dine Out options for guests at Ikos Olivia).
There’s a lovely spa for guests at the resort to use. It has a heated indoor pool, sauna, steam room and a comfortable area with loungers where you can relax. The products and treatments at the spa are by the luxury French beauty brand Anne Semonin. I had a wonderful neck and back massage at the spa and there are many other treatments on offer including some especially for teenagers.
Pools and beach
I didn’t swim while I was at the resort as the weather wasn’t very hot. But the various pools all looked lovely and I’m sure that it would be very relaxing to swim and sunbathe here in summer.
The resort has its own private sandy beach with water sports, a beach bar and a shady area where small kids can be looked after by qualified staff.
The resort has adults’ and children’s bikes for guests to borrow, complete with helmets and bike locks. I borrowed one for an early morning ride along the coast one day. It was lovely cycling along next to the beach and I made it to the nearest town and back. The only problem was that I couldn’t face riding or wheeling the bike back up the very steep hill from the beach to the hotel. Luckily the bike was light and I managed to carry it up the steps instead.
The sports facilities can be used by guests at any time and equipment is provided free of charge. Besides the pools and bikes there’s a tennis court, an all-weather football pitch, table tennis, a squash court and a volleyball and badminton net. There’s a daily programme of sport and fitness activities on offer including sessions such as yoga, pilates and salsa or hikes, darts and beach tennis.
I was shown the new childcare facilities on a tour of the resort. There’s a cheerful crèche for babies and toddlers from four months old which you have to pay for, a free kids club for children between four and 11 years old and a free teens club for older kids.
These facilities are run by Worldwide Kids Club who say that all of their staff who are working with children have undergone DBS police checks and are fully qualified. WWKC also offer a Football Academy for 5-14 year olds at certain times – there’s a charge to take part in this. There’s also a playground in the grounds of the resort which you can use at any time.
I think that Ikos Oceania is a great place for families to stay but it’s a pity that it doesn’t have any interconnecting rooms. The facilities, service and food are all excellent and the Infinite Lifestyle all-inclusive package is very generous. Be aware that the resort is on a hillside and you need to walk down quite a few steps or a steep slope to get to the beach, although staff from the resort can transport you in a golf buggy if necessary.
Family travel lowdown
Sovereign, the luxury specialist, has a week at Ikos Oceania from £1899 for a family of three on an all-inclusive basis. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki with easyjet and private resort transfers. All Sovereign customers benefit from complimentary lounge access at No 1 Traveller Gatwick and use of the premium security lane as well as a private cocktail on the beach and a farewell gift. This price is based on a departure date of 25 October 2015 and includes a saving of £411 per family. For further information on Ikos Resorts please visit www.ikosresorts.com
Disclosure: I stayed at Ikos Oceania as a guest of Ikos Resorts and Sovereign on a group press trip. As ever, all opinions, words and images are my own.